China solar companies shun home market in pursuit of margins

Fri May 24, 2013 9:52am EDT
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* Panel makers boost shipments to Japan and emerging economies

* Higher sales prices boost margins, stock performance

* JA Solar, ReneSola shares hit 1-year highs

* Chinese solar market oversupplied, but too big to ignore

By Swetha Gopinath and Thyagaraju Adinarayan

May 24 (Reuters) - Chinese solar panel makers are shunning their overcrowded home market in favor of lucrative exports, a switch that has helped to arrest a two-year slump in margins and push shares to 12-month peaks.

Manufacturers such as JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd and ReneSola Ltd, reliant on low-margin Chinese sales after trade wars with the United States and Europe, are pushing into Japan and emerging economies where solar panel demand is rising.

"Opportunities in China are less attractive than in many other emerging markets," said Daniel Heck, spokesman for Canadian Solar Inc, an Ontario-based company that has most of its operations in China.

China plans to add 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar power capacity this year. While this would make it the world's biggest solar market, excess panel manufacturing capacity has led to a sharp decline in prices.   Continued...